The Royals baseball team finished their play at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational with a bang on Friday, winning three games in less than the span of 12 hours. Eastern Mennonite won four of five in Florida, and returns home with an 11-5 record, just four wins from their win total from last spring.
EMU 6, MCLA 5
The Royals opened with an afternoon game against the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and they scored single runs in each of the first four innings. The Trailblazers put up three runs in the third, then took a 5-4 lead with two more runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Neither team would score again until the eighth, when Kyle Mathews (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) hit a two-out RBI double to tie the score. Adam Posey (Poquoson, Va./Poquoson) then led off the top of the ninth with a double, was sacrificed to third, and scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly from Ryan Hedrick (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby). MCLA managed a one-out walk in their final at-bat, but that was it.
The men had an 11-8 advantage in hitting, led by Posey’s 3-5 with two runs. The senior also started on the mound and pitched 6.1 innings for a no decision. Only three of the runs were earned and Posey struck out nine batters. Aaron Hooven (Carroll, Va./Carroll) earned the win by giving up just the one walk with four strikeouts in 2.2 innings.
EMU 14, Clark 6
Next up, the Royals resumed a doubleheader with Clark University. The Cougars had led 5-1 when the rains had ended play the day before. EMU had the bases loaded at the time, however, and the rally resumed when play picked back up on Friday.
The men put on a clinic in the at-bat, sending 17 men to the plate with nine hits and four walks. EMU scored 12 runs to surge in front 12-5, with Hedrick knocking a pair of two-run singles in the inning. Brandon Carroll (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford) also had a two-run triple.
The Royals overcame four errors in the game by getting 15 hits and six walks in the seven-inning contest. Justin Rodriguez (Miramar, Fla./Monsignor Edward Pace) was 3-4 with three runs. Hedrick was 2-4 with a walk and four RBIs, while Ryan McAlister (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) added three RBIs. Every starter reached base at least twice for the men.
Brett Whitlow (Mechanicsville, Va./Hanover) pitched four innings and was charged with five runs. Kyle Armstrong (Greenville, Va./Riverheads) pitched Clark’s half of the fifth inning before rains suspended the game and earned the win. Ryan Tierney (Front Royal, Va./Warren County) then threw the final two frames, giving up an unearned run.
EMU 6, Clark 3
The bats kept rolling in the nightcap as Eastern Mennonite jumped to a 6-1 lead. Armstrong had a two-run single in the first. The Cougars brought home single runs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth, but neither team scored over the final two innings.
Ryan Henschel (new Market, Va./Stonewall Jackson) and Kyle Salladay (Chesapeake, Va./Grassfield) combined to limit Clark to just three hits. Henschel started and allowed all of the runs in 4.2 innings, although only one was earned. Salladay struck out three in 2.1 innings of hitless relief.
Hedrick and Armstrong were each 2-4 with two RBIs. Posey and McAlister each scored twice. Jonathan Estrada (Miami, Fla./Doral Academy) didn’t chart an official at-bat, but finished with three walks, a sacrifice fly, an RBI and a run scored.
As the Royals prepare for Christopher Newport on Tuesday, they will have a chance to see how they have improved in Ben Spotts’ second season as head coach and with his first full class of recruits. Last year, EMU had the same number of wins as this year after their trip to Florida (at 11-8), but struggled through the ODAC season to a 15-24 final record. Despite finishing with the most wins since 2002 last spring, the Royals will be looking for a better conference season this time around.